Buchanan County, Mo.
Biographies
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James B. O’Connor.
An active member of the Missouri bar, James B. O'Connor, of St. Joseph, has achieved well merited success through a systematic application of his abilities to the profession of his choice, his knowledge of law being broad and comprehensive. A son of Charles O'Connor, he was born on a farm in Edgerton, Platte County, Missouri, of Irish ancestry, his paternal grandparents having been life-long residents of Ireland.
Charles O'Connor was born and reared in County Kerry, Ireland. He had but one brother, John O'Connor, and no sisters. John 0 'Connor came to America when young, and after living for awhile in Kentucky moved to one of the Western states, where he spent his last years, dying unmarried.
In 1853, a young man of twenty-three years, Charles O'Connor crossed the Atlantic Ocean in a sailing vessel, and after a long and tedious voyage of many weeks landed in Boston. A year later he went to Bourbon County, Kentucky, where he was for several seasons employed as an overseer on a large plantation. After the Civil war, in 1866, he came to Missouri, settling in Platte County. Purchasing a tract of land near Edgerton, he improved a good farm, and thenceforward devoted his time and attention to agricultural pursuits, living there until his death, in June, 1903. He came to this country poor in pocket, his only capital being strong hands, a willing heart, and resolute spirit, but filled with a determination to make good, he met with success in all of his undertakings. He reared and educated a large family, and spent the closing years of his life in peace and plenty. His wife, whose maiden name was Ellen Stack, was born in County Kerry, Ireland, where her parents spent their entire lives, and was one of a family of eight children—two sons and six daughters—that emigrated to America. She is now living on the home farm in Edgerton. To her and her husband eleven children were born, namely: John, Edward, Charles, William, James B., George Francis, Christopher S., Thomas, Stephen, Elizabeth and Ellen.
As a boy James B. O'Connor assisted in the farm work and attended the district school, the education he there acquired being advanced by an attendance at St. Benedict's College, in Atchison, Kansas. He then taught school four years, being very successful as a teacher. In the meantime Mr. O'Connor studied law, and in 1897 was admitted to the bar by Judge Achilas Woodson. Immediately beginning the practice of law in St. Joseph, he has continued here since, having built up a large and remunerative patronage.
Mr. O'Connor married, in June, 1905, Marie J. Sheridan, who was' born and educated in St. Joseph, a daughter of M. J. Sheridan. Mr. and Mrs. O'Connor have two children, Elizabeth 0. and Maria Katherine. Mr. O 'Connor is a member of several lodges in St. Joseph.
[A History of Northwest Missouri, Volume 2; edited by Walter Williams; Publ. 1918; Donated and Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack]

 

Col. Nathan P. Ogden. Numbered among the citizens of good repute and high standing in Buchanan County is Col. Nathan P. Ogden, of St. Joseph, for many years a leading banker of that city, but who is now living retired from active business. A native of Ohio, he was born, March 24, 1831, in Richland County, on a farm lying about five miles from Mansfield.
Armstrong Ogden, the colonel's father, was born on a farm in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in 1794, being one of a family of five children, as follows: William; James; Thomas; Armstrong; and Elizabeth, who married Jimison Hendrix. Leaving school while yet in his teens, Armstrong Ogden enlisted for service in the War of 1812, and at its close was honorably discharged, and was mustered out at Harrisburg. Marrying a few years later, he moved to Richland County, Ohio, where his wife had had given her, by an uncle, a quarter section of timber land, located about five miles from Mansfield. In the opening which he at once cleared, he erected the log house in which his son Nathan was born. Returning with his family to Pennsylvania in 1837, he settled in Venango County, and was there engaged in general farming during the remainder of his long life, dying at the advanced age of eighty two years.
Armstrong Ogden married Edith Phipps, who was born in Venango County, Pennsylvania, but when a small girl went to Westmoreland County to live with an uncle, and it was that uncle that gave her the Ohio land. She died when but sixty-six years old. She reared eight children, namely: Ann, Susan, Eliza, Joseph, Edith, Nathan P., James and Elizabeth.
Attending the short winter terms of the rural schools, Nathan P. Ogden had but limited opportunities as a boy to obtain an education, but being naturally studious and ambitious, he made good use of all his leisure time, often in the long winter evenings lying on the floor and studying by the light from the fireplace, while later when plowing he took his geography with him, and studied while, at the end of each row, the oxen were resting. Acquiring an excellent knowledge of the common branches of learning, and in his twentieth year began his career as a teacher in Venango County. Using the money thus earned to advance his education, he entered Allegheny College, at Meadville, Pennsylvania, and after one term of study there again taught for one season, and then returned to the college. President John Barker, who had been called to the presidency of Allegheny College from Transylvania College, in Lexington, Kentucky, advised Mr. Ogden to go to Kentucky to teach, and gave him a letter of recommendation. Going therefore to Kentucky in the fall of 1853, he taught two years in Nicholas County, and one year in Winchester, Clark County.
In May, 1857, he returned to his old home in Pennsylvania for a brief visit, and in June of that year started westward, going by stage to Erie, then by rail to Chicago, Illinois, then a small city presenting a rather queer appearance with nearly all of its buildings set on piles, and its elevated plank sidewalks. Two days later he began his journey to St. Louis, going by rail to Alton, then the terminus of the Chicago & Alton Railroad. Proceeding by boat to St. Louis from Alton, he spent two days in that city, and then took passage on a boat for Liberty. Water in the river was low, and the boat grounded opposite Brunswick. Filling his satchel with books and clothing, Mr. Ogden started on foot at 2 o'clock in the afternoon for Carrollton, sixteen miles away, and arrived there about dark on a beautiful June day. The next day he walked twenty miles to Richmond, and the ensuing day got within five miles of Liberty. Spending the night at a farm house, he walked the following morning to Liberty, and thence trudged eight miles out into the country to the home of John Raymond, who had moved there from Kentucky.
Mr. Raymond advised Mr. Ogden to go to Platte County, and furnished him with a fine Kentucky saddle horse on which to make the journey. Riding to New Market, he there secured a school, and likewise made the acquaintance of William H. Singleton, the Dean family, George M. Jones, with whom he subsequently boarded, and other men of prominence. Mr. Ogden met with almost unprecedented success as a teacher, so many applying for admission to his school that he rented the Methodist Episcopal Church, and employed an assistant. He taught there three years, during which time he clerked in stores Saturdays, and during vacation, becoming familiar with the details of mercantile business. Opening a store at New Market in 1860, Mr. Ogden conducted a good business until the second year of the Civil war.
Born in Pennsylvania, he was a loyal Union man, but he had many warm friends in the South and so kept neutral. In 1862 Quantrell and his men visited the store and helped themselves to such of his goods as they wanted, but did not destroy the remainder of his stock. Mr. Ogden then removed all that was left to Weston, and continued in business there until the conflict ended. During the war arrangements were made by which both Federals and Confederates were to be kept out of the territory north of the Missouri River, companies of militia being raised to cope with the bushwhackers, and Mr. Ogden was made commander of the Platte County troops, with rank of colonel.
At the close of the war Colonel Ogden was appointed sheriff by Governor Fletcher. That was at the troublous times of reconstruction, when men from both armies were returning home, many of them in a rather ugly frame of mind, and this added to the difficulties that beset the sheriff. As sheriff it was the colonel's duty to collect all taxes, including delinquent ones, of which there were large amounts due. It was a difficult task, and required men of courage and tact. At the expiration of his term of two years in that office Colonel Ogden was a candidate for re-election. He had conducted the business in a manner that won the support of the conservative element of both parties, and he was again elected by a large majority, and served with equal ability and efficiency for another two years.
At the close of his second term, he, with Col. James N. Burnes and others, started the project of building the Chicago & Southwestern Railroad, extending from Leavenworth, Kansas, to Trenton, Missouri, and he was subsequently employed in securing the right of way by purchase, and by condemnation. Afterwards, in company with O. L. Ford; Colonel Ogden took the contract to build the road that is now a part of the Rock Island System. On the completion of that railway he engaged in farming near Weston, and was one of the organizers of the Platte County Savings Institution at Weston. Coming to St. Joseph in 1880, Colonel Ogden became one of the organizers of the Bank of St. Joseph, of which he was one of the directorates until it was merged with the First National Bank. He then organized the Commercial Bank, and erected the bank building at the corner of Sixth and Edmund streets. He was subsequently president and a director in that bank until failing sight compelled him to retire, and he has since lived a quiet life in the beautiful home which he built in 1886.
Colonel Ogden married first, in 1878, Mrs. Elma (Pence) King, a daughter of Edward Pence, and widow of William A. King. She was born in Platte County, Missouri, and died, in 1898, in St. Joseph, leaving two sons, Edward A., now president of the Bank of North St. Joseph; and Clarence, a successful real estate dealer in Springfield, Missouri. Colonel Ogden has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for over sixty years.
[A History of Northwest Missouri, Volume 2; edited by Walter Williams; Publ. 1918; Donated and Transcribed by Andrea Stawski Pack]

 

JAMES ALFRED OWEN was one of the group of successful men who have grown old together in St. Joseph, Buchanan County, and who, even in the early days of their professional career as members of the bar of the newly established county seat, gave evidence of the impression which their lives were destined to make in the history of northwestern Missouri.
Our subject was the son of Nelson Reed Owen, a prosperous farmer, and his birth occurred May 20, 1822, on his father's estate in Henry County, Ky. His paternal grandfather, whose Christian name was Lawrence, was the founder of the family in Kentucky. From conscientious motives, he freed his slaves before leaving Maryland. After settling in the new state, he was obliged to pay twice for his large amount of property, owing to a defect in the title to the first purchase. Therefore he could not leave to his sons and daughters vast means, but their inheritance was a moderate share of this world's goods, an untarnished reputation, and the example of a man who placed conscience before policy in every crisis of a long and eventful life.
Nelson Reed, the third son of Lawrence and a younger brother of Gen. Ignatius Owen, was a devout unworldly man, courageous, as his record of ensign in the Black Hawk War, evinced, hospitable, with a faith in the goodness of human nature greatly at variance with the doctrine of inherent depravity held by the austere primitive Methodist sect to which he belonged. On his farm, in the edge of the beech woods, he and his wife, Nancy, lived, training their children to fear God and befriend man. A wealthy relative finally persuaded him to remove to Louisville. He departed this life in that city in October, 1838, in the blessed hope of spending eternity in the "green pastures" and "beside the still waters" of the better land.
At this time the struggle of life began in earnest for James A. Owen, who was then a youth of seventeen. As he was the eldest of the children, he necessarily became the head of the house, and though the experiences of the next few years were trying to one of his sensitive constitution, they were of such a nature as to strengthen those traits of self-reliance and independence which marked his subsequent life. He began to read law with Judge Dozier, but he soon decided to seek his fortune farther west. In 1846 he came by steamboat as far as St. Louis, where he had intended to locate, but was advised not to do so on account of alleged malaria. He therefore proceeded to Platte City, where for a short time he taught school. On May 19, 1847, he came to Buchanan County and at once began his law studies with Judge Solomon L. Leonard. The following fall he was admitted to the bar after passing a rigid examination. His preceptor became one of his truest friends and often referred to him in terms of the highest commendation.
On the 3d of August, 1838, Mr. Owen was united in marriage with Agnes Jeanette, the beautiful daughter of James Cargill, a wealthy farmer and mill owner, who had formerly been a prominent merchant of Wheeling, W. Va. The succeeding years, up to the breaking out of the Civil War, were marked by steadily increasing financial success; owing partly to his exertions in his profession and partly to the good judgment he displayed in the purchase and sale of real estate. The only shadow on his life at this time came from the bitterness of political controversy. He had then and always the courage of his convictions and spoke his opinions boldly. One of his strongest beliefs was concerning the sacred rights of sovereign states. Though not a Freesoiler, he many times lifted his voice in solemn protest against the determination of some of his state's most prominent citizens to dictate the policy of Kansas. He said "Remain forever pro-slavery if you choose, but spare Missouri the disgrace of attempting to make Kansas her outlying province. If the anti-slavery majority of Kansas elect to have a free state their will in the matter is the right guaranteed them by the Constitution of the United States."
In 1855 Mr. Owen was even more vehement when his old friends, carried away by the pernicious doctrine that the end justifies the means, went by hundreds into Kansas and voted against the Freesoil movement. In 1860, still faithful to the principle of state rights, he was the opponent of those whose cause he had championed five years previous.  Though he deprecated secession, he maintained that states bad the right to secede if they so desired, a position taken at that time by the New York Tribune and other publications afterward classified as loyal. In 1861 he was offered a Federal Brigadiership, which he at once declined, and from that time was the favorite target for the spite of certain petty officers. But through the more generous spirit of those higher in authority, who, like himself, respected honest difference of opinion, he escaped anything more serious than annoyance.
Mr. Owen found his health so impaired in 1864 that he was forced to retire from his professional practice, and henceforth devoted himself to the management of his, private business and to the study of financial problems. In 1876 he was the 'Greenback nominee for Lieutenant Governor, an honor in name only, as the party had little strength in the state. If his election had been at all possible he would have declined the nomination on account of ill health, but as it was, he resolved, as he said, to place himself "on record as one who believed that the greenback should be in circulation as long as its originator, the public debt, endured.
As a student Mr. Owen was noted even in his youth. He always possessed sagacity, wit and the faculty of brilliant repartee, and in his advancing years developed profound reasoning powers. His reading was voluminous and exhaustive, and his writings on various questions of public interest were widely copied in the leading newspapers of the northwest.
Though for years a sufferer from bronchitis and asthma, death came at last unexpectedly to Mr. Owen. After an acute attack of ten days' duration, he passed quietly away in his sleep on the morning of May 13, 1890. His wife and five of his children survive him. The latter are as follows: Herbert A., Mary A., Luella A., Juliette A. and Florence A., wife of William B. Orr of Pitts-burg. Two sons, Nelson Reed and James Arthur, preceded their father to the "undiscovered country."
The character of Mr. Owen is best summed up in the words of an intimate friend. "As a man, no one dared to assail his sterling qualities, for he possessed remarkable probity, decision, method, energy and self reliance, and he was intensely practical. Toward his enemies, who were few, he was implacable, but toward the needy and distressed he was always a generous and sympathizing friend. There is in all cases the affirmative, the negative and the middle ground. In his case the last was rarely large enough for him long to stand upon. He was quick to perceive the logic of events held high in his standard of business morality, and was the last man to make apologies from motives of fear or favor. His utterances were bold, which often caused misconception of his meaning and character, but he wore all his faults on his sleeve and of him it might be truly said,
“Judge me not ungentle,
Of manners rude and violent of speech,
If, when the public safety is in question,
My zeal flows warm and eager from my tongue."
But in nothing did the disposition of Mr. Owen show itself more intensely than in the tenderness of his love for his home and family.
(Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Buchanan and Clinton Counties, Missouri. Publ. 1893. Transcribed by Charlotte Slater)


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